Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar will today begin a trade mission to France.

France is now Ireland's closest neighbour in the European Union and is an important trading partner. Over €28 billion of goods and services are traded between the two countries every year.

The Tánaiste will begin his trip in Marseille and attend a meeting of EU Trade Ministers, organised by the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

This informal meeting of EU Trade Ministers will discuss the Union's approach to the next Ministerial Conference of the WTO, where Trade and Health, Sustainable Trade in Fisheries, Agriculture and WTO reform are expected to be discussed.

The Tánaiste will then travel to Paris, where he will meet with Enterprise Ireland companies, who are scaling up in France, including Ecocem, Tricel and Flipdish

He will visit the start-up campus "Station F", the world’s largest start up campus with more than 1,000 start-up companies. It is also the HQ of French Tech, the French Finance Ministry Unit in charge of start-up policy and financing.

Mr Varadkar will also meet with French companies including four IDA client companies across the pharma and financial services sectors.

"France is now Ireland's closest EU neighbour. Deep economic links already exist between our two countries, with many Irish companies making a really significant contribution across a broad range of sectors here, including construction, engineering and tech," Mr Varadkar said.

"We want to strengthen these ties. Irish companies have a huge amount to offer and I'm looking forward to meeting with some that have had already had real success by scaling up in France," he added.

He also said he is looking forward to meeting with his fellow Trade Ministers.

"It’s been a while since we could meet in person and the informal Trade Council will be an excellent opportunity to hear from them and see what other countries are doing to bounce back after the pandemic," he added.